Guest Blogger: Judy Penz Sheluk – Paying it Forward

Paying it Forward by Judy Penz Sheluk

I love short crime fiction, and while I’ve written a few short stories, I’m far from prolific. In fact, the thought of writing enough short stories to fill a collection is enough to make me break out in hives. That’s one of the reasons I started the Superior Shores Anthologies, with the first one, The Best Laid Plans, releasing in June 2019. Since then, I’ve published Heartbreaks & Half-truths (June 2020), and most recently, Moonlight & Misadventure (June 2021).

I say “one of the reasons” because a larger part of this labor-of-love initiative is a way to pay it forward: I got my start as a mystery writer in The Whole She-Bang 2 (Sisters in Crime Toronto) in 2014. I’d been a journalist for a dozen years before that, so I’d seen my byline on, and in, a myriad of occasions and publications, but to see my name on a book cover…well, let’s just say I was hooked.

And, yes, you read that right. An unknown author had her name on the cover of a multi-author collection. It meant so much to me that when it was time to design the cover for Plans, I wanted to do the same thing.

And so, I did. And I’ve kept on doing it. Of course, there is that whole branding thing that’s so important…

The concept of themed anthologies can be attributed to THEMA, a quarterly New Orleans-based literary journal that published my very first work of fiction in Spring 2004. Each issue of THEMA has a theme, where, and I quote, “The premise (target theme) must be an integral part of the plot, not necessarily the central theme but not merely incidental.” I use those words almost verbatim in my Call for Submissions, and I’m always amazed at how different authors will interpret a theme in their own unique way. I wonder if Virginia Howard, the Editor of THEMA, finds the same thing. I suspect she does. I also wonder how she’s managed to dream up so many themes:

For Moonlight & Misadventure, my initial thought was Moonlight & Murder, but I didn’t want only stories with murders in them. After all mystery and suspense can be so much more. Then I thought, what about Moonlight & Mayhem (I do love a good alliteration), but mayhem seems so overused…and misadventure? That could cover any number of situations.

Putting together three anthologies in as many years takes a tremendous amount of work and dedication: 270+ stories read, 63 selected, editing, proofreading, formatting, cover art, publishing, and promotion. But at the end of the day, I know I’ve paid my success forward, maybe not in a big way, but in the only way I know. Writing. Reading. Publishing. Repeat.


About Moonlight & Misadventure

Whether it’s vintage Hollywood, the Florida everglades, the Atlantic City boardwalk, or a farmhouse in Western Canada, the twenty authors represented in this collection of mystery and suspense interpret the overarching theme of “moonlight and misadventure” in their own inimitable style where only one thing is assured: Waxing, waning, gibbous, or full, the moon is always there, illuminating things better left in the dark.

Featuring stories by K.L. Abrahamson, Sharon Hart Addy, C.W. Blackwell, Clark Boyd, M.H. Callway, Michael A. Clark, Susan Daly, Buzz Dixon, Jeanne DuBois, Elizabeth Elwood, Tracy Falenwolfe, Kate Fellowes, John M. Floyd, Billy Houston, Bethany Maines, Judy Penz Sheluk, KM Rockwood, Joseph S. Walker, Robert Weibezahl, and Susan Jane Wright.

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A former journalist and magazine editor, Judy Penz Sheluk is the author of two mystery series: The Glass Dolphin Mysteries and the Marketville Mysteries. Her short crime fiction appears in several collections, including The Best Laid Plans, Heartbreaks & Half-truths, and Moonlight & Misadventure, which she also edited.

Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime National, Toronto, and Guppy Chapters, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she serves as Chair on the Board of Directors.

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